Higher Limit Means More Duty-Free Personal Imports for Israelis

A cargo ship docked at the port in Ashdod. (Edi Israeli/Flash90)

Israelis will soon be able to import hundreds of items duty-free, with no import taxes on goods if they purchase $1,000 or less of products online. The law to increase the duty-free import limit from $500 to $1,000 was approved by the Knesset Reforms Committee, and is ready for its second and third reading. The bill will be brought to a vote in the coming weeks.

One of the main changes to the law prescribed in the bill will be allowing the import of multiple items duty-free. According to the bill, Israelis will be able to import up to 30 of the same item in a shipment, if they are under a specific value, which the Tax Authority will decide upon. For higher-priced items, they will be able to import up to five of the same item, with the only restriction being that each shipment not be valued at more than $1,000. Another significant change will allow Israelis for the first time to import car parts, a change that the Transport Ministry had opposed until now.

The only tax that will remain is the Value-Added sales Tax (VAT) of 17 percent. Currently, imports of up to $75 are exempt from VAT; that will not change under the new law, although MKs on the Committee said that they would seek to raise that amount as well. The Tax Authority will provide a calculator that shoppers can use to determine exactly how much they will be charged in taxes, if any.

Commenting on the approval of the law for a Knesset vote, Committee chairperson MK Rachel Azaria said that “many people who purchase online do not know how much they will end up paying, because of the taxes that are attached to a purchase. Often an import gets held up in customs, creating a holdup that requires time, effort and money to clear up. This bill addresses those issues.”